The Saints’ 9-8 finish last season was impressive considering that they lost midfielder James Winston (a rupture in the AFC Champions League) in the last 10 games and started four different players in the position; They were without a two-time All-Pro range receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) all year; defensive line David Onimata (suspension) and Marcus Davenport (shoulder) lost six matches each; He had an offensive line that was in flux due to tackles by Terron Armstead (elbow/knee) and Ryan Ramczyk (knee/COVID-19) losing nine and seven games in a row, and goalkeeper Andrus Peat missing the last 11 games with a ripped chest. Star quarterback Alvin Camara has been sidelined for four games with a knee injury, and reserve Mark Ingram missed four games due to injury and COVID-19 after returning to New Orleans mid-season.
Can we really expect that kind of adversity to hit New Orleans again this year? I do not think so. In the meantime, the list appears to have loaded. Winston and Thomas are on schedule to be ready for training camp, and the receiving Legion could be among the deepest in the league having been one of the shallow units last season. The Saints didn’t have a player reaching 700 yards or 50 receptions last season, but this year they should have had Thomas, who averaged 118 catches for 1,378 yards in his first four seasons, and fast rookie rookie Chris Olaf, Chris Olaf, free shipping agent Jarvis Landry and returning threat Marquis Calaway, who had six players on the squad received relegation in 2021.
In terms of defense, they signed free agent safety deals Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye, and drafted corner back Alontae Taylor in the second round. They also used their second pick in the first round in offensive tackle Trevor Penning, who could compete to replace outgoing Armstead.
Reasons why you should stick to the details: There was significant turnover in some locations, most notably the coach. Sean Payton stepped down after 15 seasons, nine playoff games and a Super Bowl championship. He overshadowed the organization and was at the center of every football decision. How will the saints cope with his absence? If nothing else, the change is expected to be smooth, with defensive coordinator Dennis Allen promoted to succeed Payton. Allen was 8-28 in two more seasons as the Raiders coach, from 2012 through 2014, but it’s unfair to judge him based on that. The Raiders was one of the league’s most dysfunctional franchises at the time. Allen inherited a situation in which the team overstayed their salary cap and did not have a 2012 draft pick in the first three rounds before eventually receiving a compensatory pick.
It’s worth noting that the Saints may be without their most dynamic player for quite some time with the possibility of a suspension looming for Camara, who is facing battery charges following his arrest in February. Also, watch for changes in the secondary stage. Both primary goalscorers disappeared after Malcolm Jenkins retired and Marcus Williams signed with the Ravens. Armstead, a three-time Pro Bowler on the left-hand side, signed with Miami on free agency. Matthew and May are talented security guys, but how long will it take for them to feel comfortable in a new team and in a new system? However, the good news for the Saints is that there appears to be one real contender (Tampa Bay) for the division title. And that’s another reason they’re my favorite for doing the deepest playoff between teams that didn’t qualify for a season after last season.